Indigenous Law Bulletin
Queensland Government Office of Women’s Policy, March 2000
Available in Word and PDF format at
Reviewed by Susan Green
The Report of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Task Force on Violence is essential reading for every person who works or is studying in the areas of health, welfare, law or related fields. Politicians and public figures should not only know the information contained within the report but should be actively addressing the concerns and recommendations in the report. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and communities cannot wait a moment longer for the issues raised in this report to be addressed and it is the responsibility of the whole of Australian to ensure immediate action.
The report is a comprehensive examination and critique of violence within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities both in historical and contemporary contexts. It starts by defining violence and the different forms it takes. These forms have and do include colonisation, cultural and spiritual violence, domestic violence, violence against children, violence against individuals and communities as well as self harm. It goes on to discuss ‘dysfunctional community syndrome’ which affects many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities due to the nature and extent of the violence within the communities. A discussion of causes and contributing factors resulting in violence and reinforcing its continuation, as well as its effects upon the victim, the perpetrator, the community and the broader society. When examining the causes and contributing effects, this report uses a variety of theoretical perspectives from which to examine violence and its causes.
However in the examination of the historical and structural causes of violence within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, this report does not let the individual perpetrator off lightly or indeed any of us. We are all implicated, whether through our actions or in our silence. Unlike many previous reports, this report does not stop there. The women who compiled the report have provided a number of realistic and practicable recommendations to bring about change. These recommendations cover a number of areas: Government’s role, Economic Sustainability, Alcohol and other drugs, Education, Health and Well-being, Families and Security, Justice, Land, Spirit, Culture and Identity. What needs to happen now is for all sectors of government, human services organisations and communities to take this report seriously and to implement it’s recommendations without delay.
No one who reads this report can escape, nor should they, it’s horrendous message. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are dying at alarming rates from violence and the structures that have and are still causing the violence are continually reinforced. Although this report is based in Queensland the horrific reality that it presents is duplicated in every state of Australia,
[Eds Note: Queensland Government Response to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Taskforce on Violence: The First Step (May 2000) is also available at the website given above.]
Susan Green (Wiradjuri)BSW(Hons) is lecturer at the Aboriginal Research and Resource Centre, University of New South Wales and winner of the NSW Indigenous History Fellowship 2000.